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ESV Prosecutions

Date of outcome

19 July 2021 at Kyneton Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

Andrew Werner was found guilty of three offences of undertaking electrical installation work at residential premises when he was not licensed to undertake electrical installation work.

Court outcome

Werner was placed on an adjourned undertaking for 12 months without conviction, with a special condition to pay $500 to the Court fund.

Werner was also ordered to pay $1,800 in costs to ESV.

Which Act/Regulation

S 38 Electricity Safety Act 1998 (Vic)

Date of outcome

1 July 2021 at Frankston Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

There were three successful prosecutions under the Gas Safety Act 1997, involving two plumbers and their company for tampering with a gas meter and carrying out upstream gas work when natural persons were not authorised to do so.

Court outcome

Mark Mullinder and Adam Thomas were dealt with separately as co-offenders and each fined $1,200 without conviction with $750 costs.

Skilled PDF Pty Ltd is in external administration and the liquidator chose not to participate in the proceeding. It was fined $1,500 without conviction.

Which Act/Regulation

S 66(a) and s 97D Gas Safety Act 1997 (Vic)

Date of outcome

12 August 2021 at Ringwood Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

Bojic was found guilty of 11 offences under the Electricity Safety Act being:

Between November 2018 and July 2019, Bojic:

  • carried out a prescribed class of electrical contracting when he was not a registered electrical contractor, at four properties at Clematis, Boronia and Berwick (in one case leaving a switchboard with live electrical parts exposed)
  • used the REC’s account to buy certificates of electrical safety without the knowledge of an REC
  • entered false inspection details of certificates for electrical safety for prescribed electrical installation work so victims believed the work had been inspected

In each case, victims made cash payments to Bojic totalling to $4,480.

Court outcome

Convicted and fined $11,000.00.

Which Act/Regulation

Ss 30, 38, 36(1)(a), 36(1)(b), 43(1) Electricity Safety Act 1998 (Vic)

Date of outcome

16 August 2021 at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

Nicholas Lye, an apprentice electrician, was found guilty of carrying out unlicensed electrical work by installing a split system ait conditioner at a residential premises. Lye was working for a Toby Bell (trading under the name of Ultimate Air Heating & Cooling). Bell held out that his company was able to complete the entire installation of the split system. Bell issued a certificate of compliance for the plumbing work associated with the installation but not a certificate of electrical safety.

Lye was charged with carrying out unlicensed electrical work under s 38 of the Electricity Safety Act 1998 (Vic).

Bell was charged with offences under sections 30 and 36 of the Electrical Safety Act 1998 (Vic) for offering to carry out the electrical installation and employing an unregistered electrical contractor, and s 221E of the Building Act 1993 (Vic) for carrying out plumbing work when he is not a licensed plumber. Bell is also not a licensed electrician.

Court outcome

Lye was released on an adjourned undertaking to be of good behaviour for one year and ordered to pay costs of $500.00

Bell was convicted of offences ex-parte as he did not attend court for these proceedings. Bell was convicted and fined $2,000 and ordered to pay 3,926.06 in costs to ESV.

Which Act/Regulation

S 38 Electricity Safety Act 1998 (Vic)

Ss 36(1)(a), 36(1)(b) Electricity Safety Act 1998 (Vic)

S 221E Building Act 1993 (Vic)

Date of outcome

18 August 2021 at Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

George and Michael Tsokas were found guilty of carrying out unauthorised electrical work and unlicensed plumbing work. (George Tsokas is the holder of a restricted license and must work under supervision.)

Court outcome

Each was fined $2,000.00 without conviction and each ordered to pay $1,000.00 costs to ESV.

Which Act/Regulation

S 38 Electricity Safety Act 1998 (Vic) and s 221D Building Act 1993 (Vic)

Date of outcome

18 August 2021 at Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

Mohammad Al Mir was convicted of carrying out unlicensed plumbing work. Working on a domestic bathroom renovation at the time, Al Mir also left electrical sockets exposed in the process of stripping a wall. (the socket was not subsequently covered until it could be made safe by a licensed electrician.)

Court outcome

Al Mir was convicted and fined a total of $6,500.00 and ordered to pay $1,850.00 costs to ESV.

Which Act/Regulation

S 43A(1)(b) Electricity Safety Act 1998 (Vic)

S 221D Building Act 1993 (Vic)

Date of outcome

19 August 2021 at Frankston Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

Dean Turner was found guilty of carrying out unlicensed electrical work while working on a kitchen renovation. No certificates of electrical safety were provided.

Court outcome

Turner was placed on an adjourned undertaking to be of good behaviour without conviction, with a payment of $3500 to the court fund and $1,500.00 costs to ESV.

Which Act/Regulation

S 38 Electricity Safety Act 1998 (Vic)

Date of outcome

24 August 2021 at Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

Paul Gray was convicted on two charges of tampering with a gas meter assembly, two charges of carrying out unlicensed plumbing work, and three charges of carrying out upstream gas work without applying to ESV for approval.

The Magistrate in handing down sentence for both offences said Gray’s conduct was “completely unacceptable”. The Magistrate also said that deterrence was a consideration in the sentence.

Court outcome

Gray was convicted and fined $3,000.00 with costs of $1,500.00 to ESV.

Which Act/Regulation

Ss 66 and 79D Gas Safety Act 1997 (Vic)

S 221D Building Act 1993 (Vic)

Date of outcome

11 November 2021 at Ringwood Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

Michael Van den Brink gave false and misleading information to ESV in connection with gas fitting work, and failed to have Type B gas equipment inspected, was granted a diversion plan on the papers (an alternative to a formal guilty finding).

Court outcome

Van Den Brink was granted Diversion with the following conditions:

  • Be of good behaviour until 9 May 2022; and
  • Pay $1,000 to the Court fund.

Which Act/Regulation

Ss 73 and 117 Gas Safety Act 1997 (Vic)

Date of outcome

13 December 2021 at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

ESV laid charges against Powercor under section 98 of the Electricity Safety Act after the St Patrick’s Day fires at Terang for failing to comply with its general duty and exposing individuals to hazards and risks including bushfire risk. This case was the first of its kind under the Electricity Safety Act.

On the evening of 17 March 2018, a day which had been declared as a Total Fire Ban day and had a severe fire danger rating for the South West Fire District, a number of grass fires ignited in the South West region of Victoria.  This District is a Hazardous Bushfire Risk Area.  Fires affected Yatchaw, Gnotuk, Minjah Laang and Terang and surrounding areas.  In total, 89 houses and structures were destroyed.

Two fires in the Terang area started as a result of defective electricity distribution infrastructure.

Powercor is responsible for the electricity infrastructure and the distribution of electricity in Victoria’s South West, which includes Terang and the surrounding areas.

The Terang fire was caused by the clashing of high voltage conductors near the tee of a pole on the south side of High Street in Terang. The grass fire burnt through the localities of Dixie, Cobrico, Cobden, Elingamite, North Elingamite, Glenfyne, Jancourt and Scott’s Creek. The total area burnt was estimated to be 5797 hectares with an approximate perimeter in excess of 80 kilometres.

Court outcome

Powercor was convicted and fined $130,000.00

Which Act/Regulation

S 98 Electricity Safety Act 1998 (Vic)

Date of outcome

9 February 2022 at Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

Byrne advised a householder that an existing gas meter was inside the building outline of a renovation and required moving. Byrne accepted the owner’s assurances that all necessary permissions had been granted and so relocated it because the:

  • weather was cold and the residents needed gas for heating and cooking
  • gas company had foreshadowed removal of supply and relocation of the meter some weeks after the building works were completed

The gas company had not given permission for the meter to be moved.

Court outcome

Byrne was granted Diversion with the following conditions:

  • Be of good behaviour until 9 February 2023; and
  • Pay $1,000 to the Court fund.

Which Act/Regulation

Ss 79D and 66 Gas Safety Act 1997 (Vic)

Date of outcome

24 February 2022 at Sunshine Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

Parvinder Singh was convicted of offences under 221F of the Building Act, for carrying out specialised plumbing work when he was not licensed or registered with the VBA to carry out that class of work. The accused pleaded guilty to the offence. ESV’s sentencing submissions highlighted the seriousness of the offence, the safety reasons for requiring the specialised training and licensing, that Singh’s poor practices were a direct result of not having undergone that training, and the potential danger to the occupants.

Court outcome

Singh was convicted and fined $1,500.

Which Act/Regulation

S 221F Building Act 1993 (Vic)

Date of Outcome

13 October 2022 at Geelong Magistrates’ Court

Summary of conduct

Lara Plumbing Pty Ltd was found guilty of knowingly tampering with a gas meter, by moving a gas meter without the permission of the meter owner.

Court outcome

Lara Plumbing Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $7,500.

Which Act/Regulation

S 79D Gas Safety Act 1997 (Vic)

Date of Outcome

10 October 2022 at Werribee Magistrates Court

Summary of conduct:

ESV laid charges against Ridgewater Plumbing Pty Ltd under the Gas Safety Act 1997 in relation to non- compliance with an Improvement Notice issued in relation to a complex gas installation and providing false and misleading information to ESV .

In 2017 Ridgewater Plumbing Pty Ltd was engaged to install a commercial kitchen at a takeaway food premises in Hopper’s Crossing which involved a complex gas installation of type B gas appliances.

An audit of the site on 8 May 2019 by an ESV Inspector showed multiple non-compliances with the Gas Safety Act 1997 and the Gas Safety (Gas Installation) Regulations 2018 in relation to the complex gas installation namely an exposed PEX pipe, a deformed limited flex connector, clearance, buffer and ventilation issues.

An Improvement Notice was subsequently issued and served on Ridgewater Plumbing Pty Ltd directing certain works in relation to the complex gas installation be carried out within a specified date.

In January 2020, Ridgewater Plumbing Pty Ltd notified ESV that all works required by the Improvement Notice had been completed.

A inspection by ESV Inspectors in February 2020 showed only one item on the Improvement Notice had been complied with and further non- compliances with the installation were identified.

The Improvement Notice was later complied with.

The Magistrate when handing down sentence for both offences stated there were community safety considerations behind the complex gas installation processes which needed to be complied with.

Court Outcome

Ridgewater Plumbing Pty Ltd were fined $5000

Which Act/Regulation

S111 and s 117 Gas Safety Act 1997 (Vic)